Virtual Tour

Our virtual tour allows you to explore the building on your PC at home, or in the building itself on your smartphone. Besides the sections of the building that are open to the public, this tour also features areas that you are not permitted to enter or may only visit as part of an official tour.

Freely accessible parts of the building

Cupola and bronze sculpture

A rectangular tower rises 68.5 metres above the lateral section, transitioning into the outer cupola. A lantern with the 5.50-metre bronze sculpture of Truth stands atop the cupola. Eagles with outstretched wings are perched on the four corners of the cupola base. Figures of women sit astride the eagles, carrying torches in one hand and a book in the other. They symbolise that the rulings of the highest Court are carried out into all corners of the German Empire.

Main portal

The six-pillared portico with triangular pediment is the most striking feature in the main façade. Its central feature is Justitia, the goddess of justice. To her left is a figurative depiction of the liberating effects of justice. The group of figures on the right symbolise the punitive role of justice. The imperial towers stand aside the pillars. Vacant today, the niches once accommodated the statutes of Emperors William I and William II. They were not replaced during the extensive renovation, which largely returned the building to its original condition (1998–2002). The planners also decided against restoring the original decorative window pediments, which depicted Imperial crowns and orbs and that had been converted into emblems of (also West) German cities during the GDR period.

North façade

Facing Wächterstrasse, the northern wing of the building is still home to the court library. Sculptures of six scholars gaze down from on high: Eike von Repgow, Johann of Schwarzenberg, Johann Jacob Moser, Karl Gottlieb Suarez, Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach and Friedrich Karl von Savigny.

West façade

The courtrooms are located in the west wing's central structure. Fittingly, the façade motifs symbolise the judicial duties of the court: eagles vanquish snakes, shown on numerous parts of the building as allusions to evil and mendacity. Chained heads of lions emphasise that even the mighty must bow to the authority of the law.

South façade

The southern section of the building on Beethovenstrasse contained the residence of the President of the Imperial Court of Justice, including its ceremonial hall. The façade therefore eschews depictions of justice and instead shows festive, inviting motifs, crowned by a group of figures representing 'hospitality'.

Cupola hall

The cupola hall is the centrepiece of the building. All public areas can be accessed from this point. The artistically crafted, wrought irons gates in the corners of the hall once separated the public areas of the building from the restricted sections. Modern locking systems are now installed.

The hall is 33.50 metres long, 23 metres wide and 23.60 metres high beneath the cupola. Its layout resembles a Roman cross, while the interior is designed in the style of a basilica. The keystone embedded in the floor marks the inauguration of the building on 26 October 1895. A bust of Rudolf von Gneist (1816–1895) has stood at the opposite end of the hall since the Federal Administrative Court took up residence. A Prussian jurist and politician, he was among the first to advocate an independent and autonomous system of administrative jurisdiction.

Four large, semicircular stained glass windows provide natural lighting. They symbolise the areas of the former Empire once subject to the jurisdiction of the Imperial Court of Justice. The municipal coats of Hamburg and Lübeck in the north stand for commerce and shipping; the coats of Königsberg and Marienburg in the east symbolise agriculture; arts and crafts are shown by the coats of Nuremberg and Augsburg in the south, while Cologne and Strasbourg in the west represent industrialisation.


The main staircase on the left of the hall leads up to the gallery. A group of figures on the eastern wall ('Damnation') point to the offender's condemnation. The depiction of an acquitted defendant is shown on the opposite side. These and most other of the building's sculptures were fashioned by Otto Lessing (1846–1912) based on plans by the architect Hoffmann.


The gallery is adorned with a large number of reliefs that symbolise the duties and implications of jurisdiction. Torches of truth ward off dragons and snakes as representations of falsehood and evil. A dove carrying an olive branch proclaims legal closure (peaceful relations under the law). Pallas heads and owls stand for wisdom. The four semicircular reliefs on either side of the northern and southern, stained glass windows are best viewed from the gallery. They symbolise the actions of (criminal) justice, namely 'investigation' and 'enforcement' aside the southern window, as well as 'sentence' and 'mercy' beside its northern counterpart. The judicial virtues of wisdom, clarity, resolve and clemency are shown on the corners of the suspended cupola. The showcases on the gallery also feature temporary exhibitions of historical works from the library.

Great Courtroom

The great courtroom is among the most impressive in the building. It is 23 metres long, 12 metres wide and 9.80 metres high. The room is preserved in its original condition, apart from the chairs and the judge's bench. Its layout emphasises its claim to administer justice to the entire Empire. The oakwood panelling on the walls and ceilings bears the coats of the Empire's member states, with those of the kingdoms of Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria and Württemberg at the central section of the ceiling. The coats of 25 cities, each home to higher regional courts at the time, are depicted in the stained glass windows. The opposite wall features portraits of William I and Frederick III. The great courtroom was the venue for the Reichstag fire trial and others. Still used for court proceedings, the room also hosts concerts by the music society ‘Kunst und Justiz e.V.’ due to its outstanding acoustics.
Please take note: the great courtroom must not be visited while the Court is in session.

Other sections of the building

Historical courtrooms

One former civil courtroom and two criminal courtrooms are preserved in their original forms with oak ceilings, richly decorative wooden doors and panelled walls. A door panel in the civil courtroom features the depiction of two roosters fighting for a fly as a humorous reference to the frequent (dis)proportionality between belligerence and the matter in dispute. In contrast, the door in one of the criminal courtrooms shows a dragon slayer, while a circle of chains indicate the punishment awaiting convicted offenders. The rooms are still used for trials and are only open for visiting as part of official guided tours.

Modern courtrooms

The other courtrooms have a modern style in light oakwood. Like the historical courtrooms and the great courtroom, they are equipped with all the technical systems needed to run a modern court. The public may only visit these rooms on official guided tours due to their use in official court business.

Marble staircase

The residence of the President of the Imperial Court of Justice had its own entrance. The marble staircase leads from there to the section of the President's residence used for social functions. The staircase is indicative of the architect's desire to create an overall work of art, which meant designing the balustrades, as well as the wall and ceiling decorations, the chandeliers and other details himself.

Dining room in the President's former residence

The lavishly carved, oakwood ceiling in the former dining room of the President's residence is a particularly delightful feature. As in the historical civil courtroom, the architects originally gave the dining room a playful design for visitors to appreciate. Birds secreted in the twisted vines of the door frame fed their hungry offspring in the nest. It was not possible to restore this detail during renovation. The room is now used for conferences and meetings.

Ceremonial hall

Richly adorned with paintings, sculptures and reliefs, the colourful and strikingly opulent ceremonial hall in the southern wing of the building appears distinctly Baroque in style. It was used for official balls and private festivities held by the President of the Imperial Court of Justice. Numerous reliefs portraying dancers and musicians emphasise the room's festive character. A ceiling fresco at the centre of the room shows 'Apollo entering the court with the Muses'. The design was inspired by older halls in the Louvre, Paris.


The modern library extends over two floors and two mezzanine floors in the northern section of the building. The stained glass gracing the historical staircase leading up to the library depicts a Roman scholar and a monk. They symbolise Roman and canon law as two principal sources of the German legal system.

The new top floor

Cooperating closely with the heritage agencies in Saxony, a 4th floor was created in the attic of the building to provide sufficient space for the work of the Federal Administrative Court.